Evolutionary rate variation in anthocyanin pathway genes.
Over a broad taxonomic range that spans monocots and dicots, upstream enzymes of the anthocyanin pigment pathway have evolved less rapidly than downstream enzymes. In this article we show that this pattern is also evident within the genus Ipomoea. Specifically, the most upstream enzyme, chalcone synthase (CHS-D), evolves more slowly than the two most downstream enzymes, ancyocyanidin synthase (ANS) and UDP glucose flavonoid 3-oxy-glucosyltransferase (UFGT). This pattern appears not to be due to variation in mutation rates, because the CHS-D gene exhibits higher synonymous substitution rates than the genes for the other two enzymes. Codon-based tests for positive selection suggest that it has been negligible or absent in all three genes. In addition, the mean number of indel-creating events is four times as high in the downstream genes as in CHS-D. Unlike the downstream genes, CHS-D also exhibits evidence of codon bias. Together, the evidence suggests that the difference in nonsynonymous substitution rates between upstream and downstream genes is due to relaxed constraint on the downstream genes rather than a greater frequency of positively selected substitutions.
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